How to Build a Tribe (or Purposeful Community)

On the Kava Mat with Tui Mali & friends, Vorovoro Island, Fiji.

After 15 years of starting and building purpose driven-communities these are the core lessons I’ve learnt about getting traction in your tribe.

I call these the Three Rs of Tribe Building. Please share good examples of these practises below.

1. RITUAL

Every tribe or community needs its own unique little rituals.

At Escape these are things like ‘open mics’ (1 minute stand up stories — think AA for Career Change :), ‘Small Steps’ (committed actions we make together as a community weekly). At Tribewanted this is ‘everyone washes up their plate’ and ‘everyone welcomes new arrivals home’. We also had the conch (call for meetings), the drum (the chief is coming) & the the bell (come to the kitchen and eat) in Fiji which were genuine long-lasting tribe rituals! At Rebel Book Club ritual means a Sunday Night ‘power hour’ where we all commit to reading together.

What is the ritual that makes your community or tribe unique?
HomeFarm with the Startup Tribe, Escape the City

2. RHYTHM

The tribe needs to have a rhythm. So if you have a once-a-year event, then you need touch points for the remainder of the year that give a sense of belonging, reassurance and momentum. These could be online/offline meetups or great content marketing. Rhythm builds trust and space for the harder questions to be tackled.

At Escape every Monday we send a ‘Top 10’ newsletter for cool opportunities — we’ve been doing this EVERY Monday for 6 years. At Rebel Book Club this means a monthly rhythm of 3 books to vote on, 1 book to read, 4 weeks to read it in, and 1 meetup + bespoke cocktail to attend.

What are the drumbeats that are going to create a sense of rhythm and momentum for your community?

3. RESPECT

It goes without saying but the more you can empower your community to participate/lead/contribute the more you will grow as a community. This isn’t easy but can make the biggest difference.

A good way to start this is to have clear ground-rules, a manifesto or key principles that all new joiners sign up. Even better, crowd-source these with your early adopters to generate extra buy-in to the vision and spirit of the community.

What are the early actions you can show to prove that this community will be built with clear principles?
More on Tribe Building

For a fresh perspective on Tribe Building, take a look at Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on ‘The Art of Asking’ and read ‘How We Gather’ for great case studies!

Sunday Sermons at Escape to the WOODS